Swedenborg by Vladimir Solovyev
translated from the Brockhaus-Ephron Encyclopedia
by GF Dole

Friday, January 1, 1999

(Emanuel Swedenborg, 1688-1772)--learned scientist, later spirit-seer and,

after Jakob Boehme, most remarkable theosoph of the new age, founder[1] of

Swedenborgian sectarian groups that exist to the present time in various

countries (especially England and America). His father, Jesper Swedberg

(q.v.), did not subject his son to any confessional requirements

whatever;[2] only on his enrolment in Upsala University did young

Swedenborg become familiar in detail with the principal teachings of

Protestant orthodoxy, which deeply disturbed him. In particular, free

redemption, justification by faith alone apart from works, and

predestination to salvation or to eternal damnation--dogmas then taught in

rationalist, scholastic style to the exclusion of any speculative or

mystical subjects--appeared to Swedenborg's straightforward mind to be pure

nonsense, an offence to the Divine. He remained of this opinion to the end,

expressing it in all his works with somewhat naive indignation.[3]

Swedenborg's distaste for the accepted theology prompted him to turn to

secular science--classical languages and literature, mathematics, and the

natural sciences. In 1709, he presented for the degree of doctor of

philosophy[4] his scholarly edition of sentences of Seneca and Publius

Syrus the Mime, with references to Erasmus and a Greek translation by

Scaliger. On his return from a trip to England, Holland, and France, he

published two collections of poems, Ludus Heliconius, sive carmina

miscellanea (1714) and Carmina borea sive favellae Ovidianis similes

(1715).[5] Not possessing poetic inspiration, he wrote correct and elegant

Latin verse.[6]

In 1716, he founded a periodical publication of his own and others'

researches and articles in the natural sciences, Daedalus Hyperboreus (six

issues). Charles XII appointed him Assessor of the College of Mines[7] and

then entrusted him, along with the engineer Polhelm, with the construction

of a system of canals and locks linking Stockholm with Gothenburg.[8] In

connection with this [post], Swedenborg invented a special machine with

rollers with which Swedish artillery was dragged up to the walls of a

Norwegian fortress[9] during the siege in which Charles XII was killed.

Queen Ulrika Eleonora raised the Swedberg family to a higher rank with a

right to the name Swedenborg, which belonged to another, more eminent line

of the family.[10]

Between 1717 and 1719, Swedenborg published scientific works: on algebra,

on ways of determining longitude by means of observations of the moon,[11]

on a decimal system of measurement and currency denominations(?), on the

great height of tides in ancient times, and on the motion and position of

earth and the planets. This scientific work did not obliterate his

moral/religious interest, and at this time he formulated concisely five

basic principles of the good life, which he faithfully copied out as a


1) To read God's Word frequently, and to meditate on it.

2) In everything, to trust the intent of divine providence.

3) In everything, to observe the demands of propriety.

4) Always to have a clear conscience.

5) Faithfully to carry out the duties of one's public office, and to try in

everything to be useful to society.[12]

As a member of the Swedish Diet, Swedenborg worked tirelessly on some very

difficult practical problems, especially in the area of finance. The

importance and practicality of the measures which he proposed on these

issues in his parliamentary memoranda were acknowledged by experts even

half a century later. It was in connection with his official duties that he

wrote his essay on the fall and rise of the value of Swedish currency


After thorough research into his native country's mines, he traveled for

the same purpose to Germany (1721-22). He then published in Amsterdam and

Leipzig (in Latin) the following works:[13] On the Principles of Natural

Philosophy,[14] Observations and Discoveries concerning Iron and Fire,[15]

A New Method of Finding Geographical Latitude on Land and Sea,[16] The Art

of Building Docks and a New Method of Designing Dams, The Art of

Determining the Mechanical Forces on Ships,[17] Various Observations on

Minerals, Fire, and the Strata of Mountains,[18] and On the Stalactites in

Baumann's Cave.[19] These, like Swedenborg's later scientific works, were

singled out in the remarks of specialists for their rich collection of

facts, the prompt disclosure of these facts to the public, their definitive

principles, and the obvious usefulness of the applications they indicated.

Between 1733 and 1736, he again traveled to Bohemia and Germany in order to

publish his Opera Philosophica et Mineralia. The first volume, after

positing general philosophical principles (in the course of which

Swedenborg adopted the rationalism of Leibniz and Wolff[20]), contained

original solutions to specific problems of scientific cosmology. In this

area of study, Swedenborg retains to the present day an important place in

the history of science. The noted chemist Dumas, in his lectures on the

philosophy of chemistry, named Swedenborg as the real founder of

crystallography.[21] Other scholarly publications of Swedenborg were

anticipations of the theories of Dalton[22] and Berzelius.[23] Before

Herschel, Swedenborg discovered the place of our solar system in the Milky

Way,[24] and before Lagrange he showed that the perturbations of the

planetary orbits have their own properties by determining the intervals of

time recurring according to a norm.[25] The other two volumes contained a

series of tracts on mineralogy.[26] The publication of the Opera gained

Swedenborg a widespread reputation in the learned world; he was elected an

honorary member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Science.

In 1734, Swedenborg published in Dresden his Prodromus philosphiae

rationalis, where he dealt with infinity (arguing against Descartes), with

purpose and nature (arguing against Bacon), and with the connection between

body and spirit (arguing against Leibniz, with his "preestablished

harmony"). Swedenborg did not at this point come out with a systematic

publication of his own settled views on these three questions because,

among other things, he felt that for a final resolution of the third

question he needed specialized research on the organic world and especially

the animal kingdom.

In 1736, Swedenborg undertook another jouney to Holland, Belgium, France,

and Italy, now focusing intensively on physiology and especially on

anatomy. He published the results of his labors in the two volume Economy

of the Animal Kingdom (1741).[27] In 1743, he published in the Hague and

London three further volumes entitled The Animal Kingdom,[28] whose

significance was reserved for a hundred years, when a scholarly member of

the London Medical Association published in in English translation. In this

pair of publications Swedenborg was not interested in the classification

and description of animals: they make no reference whatever to zoology in

the usual sense.[29] Swedenborg held the animal kingdom or the zoological

level of creation in its highest and normative representation to be the

human being, and the subject of these two works may be defined as the

morphology and physical mechanics of the human organism. The author himself

rated this vast work as merely preliminary: he had made no new discoveries,

he had relied throughout on the most recent scientific advances.[30]

At the time Swedenborg was coming up with new, more independent works on

biology for solutions to philosphical questions concerning the relationship

of the spiritual and the physical sides of the human organism, though,

remarkable spiritual-physical changes were taking place within him, opening

for him the new religious calling primarily associated with his name among

later generations. In 1745 (having reached the same age at which, later,

Kant would write his Critique of Pure Reason, fifty-seven), Swedenborg was

in London. For dinner, he went to a particular inn where he had a room at

his disposal so that he could peacefully devote himself to solitary

reflection. On one occasion, being hungry, he ate more than usual and

suddenly saw that the room was becoming full of mist, and there appeared on

the floor a multitude of different crawling things. The mist turned into a

thick darkness, then it dissipated; the reptiles were no longer there, but

Swedenborg saw a man sitting in the corner of the room, surrounded by a

dazzling light, saying sternly to him, "Do not eat so much!"

Then Swedenborg lost his sight; when it gradually came back, he hurried

home with great fear, spending the night and the next day there in

meditation without eating anything. The next night, the man clothed in

light appeared again, dressed in a beautiful robe, and said to him, "I am

God, the Lord, the Creator and Redeemer. I have chosen you explain to

mortals the inner and spiritual meaning of scripture. I will dictate to you

what you are to write." After this, Swedenborg felt that the sight of his

inner person was opened, and from that time on he began, without changing

his external location, to be transported to heaven, hell, and the

(intermediate) World of Spirits, where he saw and talked with many

individuals he had known, sometimes recently deceased, sometimes deceased

long since.[31]

When he returned to Sweden, Swedenborg gave up his job and his occupation

with natural science to devote himself exclusively to his new calling.[32]

Caught up in uninterrupted inspiration, he wrote his fundamental

theological work, Arcana Coelestia (London, 1749-1756).[33] The contents

are indicated by the title: Heavenly Mysteries in Sacred Scripture or the

Word of God, with Wonderful Visions (of Swedenborg) in the World of Spirits

and the Heaven of Angels.[34] The form of the work was that of an

uninterrupted,[35] detailed commentary on the first two books of the

Pentateuch (verse by verse) in a new Latin translation by Swedenborg

himself from the Hebrew text (though he was not a Hebraist, he had gained

some knowledge of the Hebrew language in his youth).[36]

His method of interpretation was purely allegorical, distinguished from

that of other ecclesiastical writers only by his directness and

consistency. Basically, Swedenborg distinguishes three meanings in the

text, historical or literal, spiritual, and heavenly;[37] but in the work,

he brings out only the contrast between the outer or natural and the inner

or (in a broad sense) spiritual meanings, and his task of interpretation is

to show the inner meaning of every verse and every word in the Bible.[38]

This relationship in the holy text was connected for Swedenborg with his

theory of correspondences (correspondentiae), in which for every object and

quality in the natural world, there is something corresponding in the

spiritual world. In the assignment of these correspondences for every event

that occurs, we see in substance the Biblical exegesis--or more precisely

hermeneutics--of Swedenborg.

For example, wherever in the text it mentions stone, stones, or stony, in

the spiritual sense this refers to faith, fidelity, or truth in respect to

its solidity. Water also corresponds to truth, not in respect to solidity,

though, but in respect to originality (a spring), and also to its reviving

and cleansing properties. Bread and wine, already connected by outward

correspondence, in their spiritual meaning correspond to categories of

action--to the will, love, good. Various mammals mean various spiritual

affections, feelings, and passions. Birds refer to thoughts, and waterfowl

to thoughts flowing like pure scientific truth,[39] etc. With the aid of

these allegorical relationships, the first two books of the Bible turn into

an explanation of the primordial fate of humanity or the consequent changes

in its inner spiritual state--epochs of religious decline and recovery.[40]

In addition to this philosophy/history in Arcana Coelestia, it contains two

other types of material: 1) prompted by one text or another, the author

explains various dogmatic propositions of his own plain true doctrine,and

2) every chapter of commentary, regardless of its contents, is accompanied

by particular addenda where Swedenborg tells things he has seen and heard

in his states of spiritual detachment or when the eyes and ears of his

inner person were opened.[41]

After Arcana Coelestia, Swedenborg published a series of books in which,

with constant references to the Bible and to appropriate sections[42] of

his principal work [i.e., Arcana Coelestia], but now not in the form of

straight commentary, he presented and explained various distinct aspects

and points of his theosophical teaching. These works, arranged in

chronological order, are the following: Clavis Hieroglyphica (a

presentation of the theory of correspondences, 1757);[43] De telluribus (a

description of the planets and their inhabitants as Swedenborg observed

them on his visits to them "in the spirit," London, 1758);[44] On Heaven,

Hell, and the World of Spirits (his most characteristic and popular work,

London, 1758);[45] De ultimo judicio et de Babylon destructa (an

explanation of the eighteenth chapter of Revelation; Swedenborg asserted

that an apocalyptic judgment had taken place in the spiritual world in 1757

and that he was permitted by God to witness it, London, 1758);[46] Equus

albus (a commentary on the nineteenth chapter of Revelation, London,

1758);[47] De nova Jerusalem et doctrina ejus coelesti (a commentary on the

twenty-first chapter of Revelation, London, 1758);[48] Doctrina nov. Jerus.

de Domino (Amsterdam, 1763);[49] Doctr. n. J. de Scriptura Sacra

(same);[50] Doctrina vitae (same);[51] Doctr. de fide (same);[52] De ultimo

judicio (same);[53] Angelica Sapientia de divino amore et de dkvina

Sapientia (same);[54] Angelica Sapientia de providentia divina (same place,

1764):[55] Apocalypsis revelata (Amsterdam: 1766);[56] Deliciae Sapientia

de amore conjugali et voluptates insaniae de amore Scortatorio (same place,

1768);[57] De commercio animae et corporis (London, 1769; at this place and

time Swedenborg also published his autobiography in the form of a letter to

a friend);[58] Expositio doctr. Ecclesiae novae (Amsterdam: 1769);[59] and

the major, concluding work of Swedenborg, Vera Christiana Religio (3 Vols.,

Amsterdam, 1771).[60] After his death, Swedenborg's friends published his

extensive commentary on Revelation, Apocal. explicata;[61] A Brief

Explanation of the Inner Meaning of the Psalms and All the Prophets;[62]

The Old Testament;[63] Doctr. nov. Jer. de charitate;[64] 9 Questions

concerning the Trinity, proposed by Hartley, and Swedenborg's answers;[65]

and The Crown or Appendix to the Work on True Christian Religion.[66]

Out of all these numerous volumes, one can distill a single, original,

harmonious theosophical system. Swedenborg's doctrine on theological

matters did not have any literary antecedents. It was actually in the Bible

that he found the bases for his thought, at least under the stipulations of

the particular system of interpretation that he regarded as sacred. As for

texts and secondary literature, these were not the direct source. He did

not read theological literature at all. In the field of philosophy (of

which he shows no historical knowledge), he sets out exclusively from a

priori/rationalist principles, but as for the ideas of the philosophers

with which he argued or agreed, he clearly derived these from the

surrounding intellectual atmosphere and not from their works.[67] In the

publications of his religious period, his theosophy seems complete, and he

is concerned simply to explain and propagate it. The immense quantity of

Swedenborg's own writings, together with the journeys he made to the end of

his life, precluded the possibility of any systematic and broad [program

of] reading.

The originality of Swedenborg's theosophical doctrine does not, though,

rule out substantial similarities between him and other well-known

doctrines (well known to us, that is, but not to him), especially some

gnostic systems (q.v.) and the Jewish Cabalah (q.v.).[68] Swedenborg

rejected a concept of God as an abstract source. God always has his own

definite and substantial form, which is the form of the human body.[69]

God eternally exists as the "Grand Man" (Maximus Homo, = "Universal

Human"), namely as our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom dwells the fullness of

divinity, bodily.[70]

Swedenborg's doctrine is absolutely Christian, even to the extent that he

presumes that in fact only Christ exists, and nothing more. By what means

can the human, especially a physical one, be in absolute being? Or, by what

means can the infinite be bounded within the finite? This question has no

meaning from Swedenborg's perspective because he understood before Kant the

relative, subjective nature of our "space," "time," and all delimited and

mechanistic orders of appearance. All this, for Swedenborg, was not

essential reality, but appearance (apparentia); effectual qualities and

forms of being, both mathematical and organic (that is, everything that is

enduring and qualitatively defined) do not depend at all on the outward

natures of their appearances in our world. This world itself is nothing

unqualifiedly real, but only the lower "natural" state of humanity,

distinguished by the fact that here apparentia is confirmed or fixated as

entia. Everything enduring or having actual qualities in our

world--qualities of color and sound, mountains, oceans, and rivers, rocks,

plants, and animals--actually exists as independent from its apparent

external cause; its true cause belongs to the spiritual world (in a broad

sense of the word) or to the spiritual state of humanity, where it becomes

obvious to everyone, namely as a direct and immediate dependence of

external objects on inner spiritual states.

So for example, if love and joy within someone in the spiritual world

become weak, then his outward surroundings are immediately changed in

corresponding fashion; without his moving, he finds himself all alone in a

dark, mountainous region, dry and bare of greenery. If between two

spiritual beings there arises a mutual inner affection, then for that

reason alone there and then they are gradually brought towward each other

outwardly and suddenly appear together, no matter how great the distance

between them had been before. In this way, Swedenborg distinguishes two

modes of apparent being: true, or effective, in which outer phenomena are

created by their own corresponding inner states, and apparent or false

modes of being in the case of different or contradictory relationships.

For Swedenborg, matter as an independent entity does not exist at all, but

the independence of material appearances from their spiritual causes and

ends is simply an illusory manifestation of a subjective origin. What is

true and effective is only the divine-human Jesus Christ and His kingdom,

that is, the union of the human nature, defined from within by its

substance and by the actual relationship of its will to the good and its

understanding to the true, which are incarnate in Jesus Christ, but

representing itself outwardly in the world of forms, united according to

the principle of correspondence.

From the perspective of fundamental quality, the whole community of human

beings is distinguished into three primary regions of being: 1) heaven or

the world of angels (in a broad sense)--that is, people who have

consistently governed their lives by love of God and the neighbor. On

dying, they become angels, and from their community is formed the body of

the Grand Man [Maximus Homo], that is, of Jesus Christ; 2) hell, populated

by people whose lives have been ruled by a dominant love of self and the

world, that is, for externals and for vanity. On dying, these people become

evil spirits, of whom Swedenborg distinguishes two categories: devils in

the strict sense, whose evil nature is expressed primarily in deceit and in

hatred of the truth, and satans, governed primarily by evil and by hatred

of the good as such.[71] The former and the latter have fantastic and

monstrous bodies, corresponding to what is within them; 3) the intermediate

world of spirits (in a special sense), consisting of people who have died

without making a final decision in one direction or the other. After death,

they are subjected to the reinforcing influence of guardian angels and

seductive devils until they join themselves decisively to the one side or

the other.[72] These results of spiritual struggle proceed either

individually or collectively up to the end of earthly epochs, until the

arrival of a general judgment at which the Lord himself appears.

Swedenborg was present at one of these judgments in the year 1757 (marking

the close of the Christian era of history) and describes it in detail.

Very distinctive in Swedenborg's theosophy is the fact that he does not

admit of any pre-human or trans-human creation of angels and demons but

sees in them only human evolution in two opposite directions, in that after

death every individual is already essentially either an angel or a devil;

and then, for the individual as for Swedenborg, the spiritual sight is

opened and this can be clearly discerned. In this way, the wellspring or

seedbed (seminarium) of heaven and hell is earthly or natural humanity

which, according to Swedenborg, inhabits not only our planet but other

planets or earths as well. These inhabitants of the planets are "natural"

[= physical] people of various kinds who, like us, after death become

either heavenly or hellish spirits. We may add that Swedenborg's

communications about the visits of his "inner person" to these planets and

his conversations with their inhabitants, unlike the consistent

reasonableness of his expository writing, have an essentially hallucinatory


In general, Swedenborg's doctrine does not give a clear and decisive answer

to philosophical questions about the primordial and general origin of the

earthly, natural, or external world and about its metaphysical connection

with the truly existent universal human. We do not find in it a

theosophical cosmology or cosmogony, but see on this point only a reluctant

vacillation between arbitrary naturalism, realism, and outright idealism

(the denial of all material existence), of the kind principally advocated

by Berkeley.[73]

Swedenborg's anthropology is more precise. The human in essence (essentia

for Swedenborg = esse) is threefold not in a mechanical but in an organic

sense, exhibiting in its existence (existentia) the sucessive opening of

three principal levels: 1) the natural, opened at birth and dominant until

the development of intelligence, 2) the rational, from the awakening of

reason and conscience--in a majority of people--until death, and 3)the

spiritual, usually opened only upon death, after crossing into the World of

Spirits, but for some (as for Swedenborg himself) emerging prematurely

during this life.

The natural threefold or three-level structure of every human being does

not determine in advance one's moral quality or destiny. Every individual,

on the first or natural level, is predisposed to both good and evil; on the

second, rational level, one chooses between these two directions; on the

third or spiritual level, one is manifested decisively as either a good or

an evil spirit. The matter is complicated, though, by the fact that every

individual, until the final transformation into an angel or a devil, is

constantly situated between two opposite influences (influxus)--a good or

heavenly one that comes from God through angels and an evil or hellish one

that comes from evil spirits.

To resolve the vexing question of free will, Swedenborg tried to protect

himself against fatalism by suggesting an unavoidable psychological

illusion in which we are obliged to think that our actions, effected

through the strength of our divine or hellish influx, are accomplished as

if (quasi[74]) on our own, recognizing, however, that all the good in our

actions comes from God. For Swedenborg, the essence of moral good consists

of love of God and th neighbor, while the essence of moral evil consists of

love of one's own selfhood (proprium) and of the world--that is, for

external objects for their own sakes apart from their deeper purposes.

Swedenborg's moral doctrine was theologically irreproachable (in the

opinion of the Moscow Metropolitan Filaret, among others), but he did not

provide a resolution of the philosphical debate between fatalism and

freedom. In general, Swedenborg refrained from autonomous thinking during

his religious period, writing only what had appeared to his spiritual sight

and the ideas which he believed were from direct inspiration or dictation

from above.

In the area of theology in the narrow sense of the word, Swedenborg offers

a striking replacement of the Trinity by Christ alone. Unfamiliar with

Greek philosophy and any kind of dialectic thinking, a cool and sober mind

with a formal-rational style of thought, Swedenborg did not understand the

speculative basis of ecclesiastical dogma and saw in it simply tritheism,

which offended him. His simple refutation, founded on this kind of lack of

understanding, comes from a simplistic rationalistic polemic, and is of no

interest whatever. However, standing in a resolutely Christian (Biblical)

perspective and acknowledging Christ as the universal center, Swedenborg

transfers into Him the threefold nature of God, which is undoubtedly

suggested by the sacred texts. 1) Within the one God Jesus Christ,

Swedenborg distiguishes the Divine as such (Divinum), the Divine-human or

Divine-rational (Divinum Humanum seu Divinum rationale), and the

Divine-natural (Divinum Naturale). 2) In the manifestation of Christ, this

inner threefold nature is designated as the perfect divine essence--the

Father, as his perfect human form--the Son, and as perfect efficacy or his

living breath in the heavenly atmosphere or aura (aura[75]) which proceeds

from Christ and surrounds him--the Holy Spirit.

For Swedenborg, the essence of the incarnation consists in the fact that

the divine-natural element in Christ (his divinum naturale) came into our

earthly realm, clothed itself in a human naature and then in the

rational-human elements of Jesus. The goal of the incarnatin was that the

divine gain a tangible effectiveness in our earthly realm and also in the

world of terrestrial spirits, and that the heavenly atmosphere of Christ

might drive out the increasing numbers of evil spirits who were flooding

(infestabant) our world; Christ's task, for Swedenborg, was not the

redemption and justification of humanity by means of formal acts but by an

actual confrontation of heaven and hell in his earthly humanity and the

restoration of the disturbed balance between the forces of good and evil.

For Christ himself, his earthly life was a process of gradually putting off

the earthly covering, which had been initially necessary for the

development of his merely human nature (ens rationale), which became an

adequate covering for his Divinity. In the resurrection, Christ became

complete reality, for the opening in his disciples of the sensory organs of

their inner or spiritual persons.

Swedenborg did not acknowledge the second coming of Christ or the universal

judgment of the living and the dead. For the (formal and substantive)

characteristics of Swedenborg's theosophical explanations in the area of

eschatology, the following story from his "Memorabilia" (additions to

Arcana Coelestia) may serve best of all.[76]

At this time my inner person was in the middle heaven,[77] in the region of

the Lord's heart, to the left of the stomach,[78] which consists of a

community of spirits who love truth because it was good (amant verum quoad

bonum).[79] In their presence I felt their strong influence on my heart[80]

and proceeding through it to my brain, and the thought occurred to me, Is

there any way in which the Lord's mercy could let devils remain in hell to

eternity?[81] Even while I was thinking about this, one of the angels of a

just temperament [?] flew down with uncommon speed to the throne region of

the great Satan[82] and at the Lord's suggestion[83] brought out one of the

evil devils in order to grant him heavenly bliss. I was allowed to see,

however, that as the angel rose into a heavenly sphere, the proud

expression on his prisoner's face changed to one of suffering and his body

turned black;[84] when, with no regard for his resistance, he was dragged

into the middle of heaven,[85] dreadful convulsions came over him and with

his every intent and movement he showed that he was suffering immense and

unbearable pain. When he was brought near the central region of heaven, his

tongue hung out as though he were exhausted and thirsty, and his face was

inflamed [?] as though with a raging fever. Then his misery touched me, and

I begged the Lord to command the angel to let him go. When, with the Lord's

consent, he was released, he hurled himself down heaadfirst[86] so

impetuously that all I could see was how his extraordinarily black heels

flashed by.

Then I was given the insight that anyone's stay in heaven or in hell

depends not on the arbitrary will of God but on the inner state of one's

essential nature, and that the transfer against one's will from hell to

heaven is just about as painful for the one who is transferred as is a

transfer from heaven to hell . . . . In this way, I understood that the

eternity of hell for people who arrive their for their own gratification is

in complete accord with both the wisdom and the goodness of God.[87]

After 1745, Swedenborg, while changing the character of his occupation, did

not change his life style; he traveled frequently, preferring to stay in

London and Amsterdam for the printing of his religions works, which he

generously distributed to various individuals and institutions.

The well-known stories about several particular instances of Swedenborg's

clairvoyance and spirit-seeing (a fire in Stockholm, the communication of

important secrets of deceased individuals), although cited in the oral and

written testimony of eminent individuals, do not have enough explicit and

documented confirmation and are not free from inconsistency in details.[88]

In view of his honest and serious character, Swedenborg's regular dealings

with various spheres of life beyond the grave have full subjective

credibility; any evaluation of their actual significance depends on one's

general point of view. In several instances, Swedenborg certainly lapsed

into mistaken judgment. In the latter years of Swedenborg's life, an

investigation was pursued by the Swedish clergy, provoked by his sharp

critique of Protestant dogmas. In 1769, there was a speech in the Diet

about the necessity of declaring Swedenborg insane and depriving him of his

freedom. The offices of the clerical estate, led by Bishop Filenius, a

nephew of Swedenborg, decreed that his books should be confiscated; amd two

of his followers, members of the consistory, were brought to trial. One of

them, Th. Dr. Beyer, published a declaration in his defense, while

Swedenborg himself drafted memoranda and appeals to the three universities

of the kingdom. Because of the general esteem of Swedenborg and the support

of the king, the case, referred to the Senate, was discontinued.[89]

In 1770, Swedenborg set out on his last journey. Falling ill in London, he

slept for more than a week without rousing. On awakening, he foretold the

day of his death, and to an English friend he solemnly testified to his

conviction of the complete truth of everything he had written, and he died,

receiving Holy Communion from a Swedish pastor.[90]

Swedenborgian: In the eighties of the eighteenth century, several

Swedenborgian (New Jerusalem) churches were founded, which soon began to

spread in Great Britain and America. By the end of the nineteenth century,

there were eighty-one societies in the United Kingdom, and one hundred and

sixteen in the United States of America. For the distribution of books by

and about Swedenborg, the Swedenborg Society was founded in 1810.[91]

There are scattered groups in Germany, France, and Switzerland, and also in

Russia (to these belongs the noted writer V. I. Dal and the part-time

Professor of Philosophy at Moscow University, P. D. Yurkevich).

Literature: The theosophical works of Swedenborg were published in the

course of the nineteenth century in the English translations of Clowes and

Mather, in the French translations of Le Boy des Guays, and in the German

translations of Tafel. In Russian, only the book Heaven and Hell has been

published (in the translation of A. N. Aksakov, Lits., 1860). Tafel

published Documents concerning the Life and Character of Swedenborg

(Tubingen, 1839-42). He also published Abriss von S. Life (1845).[92]

Brickmann, Die Lehre der neuen Kirche (2 editions, Basel, 1880).[93]

Biographies: Schaarschmidt (Elberfeldt, 1862), Matter (I., 1863), White

(Two editions, London, 1874[94]), Wilkinson (London, 1849), Paxton Hood

(London, 1854). Newer works: Rev. Samuel Warren, Compendium of the

Theological Writings of E. S. (London: 1855); Edm. Swift, Manual of the

Doctrines of the New Church; Noble, Appeal, etc. On Swedenborgianism, see

Robert Hindmarsh, Rise and Progress of the New Jerusalem Church in Engl.,

Amer. and other parts (London: 1861). Critical work on Swedenborg. Görres,

E. S., seine Visionen u. s. Verhältniss zur Kirche (1827). Of major secular

writers interested in Swedenborg, Balzac, in his novel Séraphitus-Séraphita

and Emerson (Chapter "The Mystic" in his Representative Men (1850). An

idiosyncratic variation on Swedenborg's teaching is offered by Thomas Lake

Harris, founder of the distinctive community The brotherhood of the New

Life in the United States of America.


It will later be noted that Swedenborg himself made no effort toward

"founding" an organization. The groups that formed around his doctrines did

so after his death.

Jesper was a "Pietist"--i.e. one who tried to get back to the simple

Gospel message, and had little patience with the abstruse theological

disputations that could characterize the defence of orthodox Lutheranism.

In his later years, though, Swedenborg would recall his own childhood

participation in theological discussions.

Solovyov's sources for much of the biographical information may have been

James John Garth Wilkinson's Emanuel Swedenborg: A Biography (the edition

to which I have access was printed in Boston by Otis Clapp in 1849;

Solovyov lists a London edition of the same year) and the Abriss des Lebens

und Wirkens Emanuel Swedenborgs which he also cites. This latter is

subtitled übersetzt aus den Penny-Cyclopedia of the Society for the

Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, to which Wilkinson contributed the article

on Jesper Swedberg (cf. Wilkinson, op. cit., p. 4). It appears to reflect

an abridgment of Wilkinson's biography. It omits some information and

opinions clearly reflected in Solovyov's article, e.g., Swedenborg's

childhood ignorance of traditional atonement theology (Wilkinson, p. 5),

attested by a late letter of Swedenborg to Dr. Beyer, and Jesper's not

imposing Lutheran dogmas on his childhood mind, for which no primary source

is cited (ibid., p. 6). It includes, however, at least one detail mentioned

by Solovyov that is not in the English biography, namely the mention in the

full title of Swedenborg's thesis of the Greek translation of Seneca by

Scaliger (Abriss, p. 2).

This degree is explicitly mentioned in Wilkinson (op. cit., p. 7) and the

Abriss (p. 2). However,I have not found any references to Swedenborg as

"doctor," and the best-documented of the biographies that of Cyriel O.

Sigstedt (The Swedenborg Epic" The Life and Works of Emanuel Swedenborg

[New York: Bookman Associates, 1952], p. 12) states explicitly that his

graduation "involved no granting of a degree in any modern sense." In this

connection it may be worth noting Wilkinson's comment on the later

ennoblement ; "His new rank conferred no title . . . : he was not either a

count, or a baron, as is commonly supposed" (op. cit., p. 18, clearly

reflected in the Abriss, p. 7: "Sein neuer Rang gab ihm . . . keinen Titel,

und er war weder, wie man gewöhnlich annahm, Graf, noch Baron . . . ."

He also published Festivus applausus in Caroli XIII in Pomeraniam suam

adventum in 1714. Annotated editions of this and the Carmina Borea, with

English translations, have recently been published by Hans Helander in the

Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis series. Perhaps more to the point, he

returned also with a portfolio of mechanical inventions, with the express

hope that one or another of them might lead to a career. Cf., for example,

Henry Söderberg, Swedenborg's 1714 Airplane: A Machine to Fly in the Air

(New York: Swedenborg Foundation, 1988).

The literary quality of Swedenborg's youthful poetry may be open to

debate. Per Atterbom, "Sweden's first great literary historian"

(Encyclopedia Britannica, s.v. "Atterbom") thought very highly of the

poetic quality of one of Swedenborg's later works (The Worship and Love of

God, 1745), judging it presumably by the standards of nineteenth century

Romanticism. Cf. Hans Helander, "Swedenborg's Latin," in Studia

Swedenborgiana 8/1, p. 31. The reference there is to Atterbom's Svenska

siare och skalder, eller Grundragen af svenska vitterhetens hälder (Uppsala

1841ff.), to which I do not have access. Helander's essay argues against

any facile discounting of neo-Latin literature in general.

This was initially an unpaid position, "Extraordinary Assessor," and was

not recognized by the College itself. It was not until 1723 that Swedenborg

was accepted and salaried.

This massive project was severely hampered the massive drain on Sweden'g

finances and manpower for Charles's military ventures, and was abandoned at

Charles's death. The canal was not completed until this century. Cf. Robin

E. Larsen, ed., Emanuel Swedenborg: A Continuing Vision (New York:

Swedenborg Foundation, 1988), p. 21.

Primary sources indicate that it was a fleet of warships that was hauled

overland under Swedenborg's supervision. Both Wilkinson and the Abriss list

the warships ("two galleys, five large boats and a sloop," Wilkinson p. 17;

"Zwei Galeeren, fünf grosse Bote und eine Schaluppe," Abriss) and state

that the artillery was deployed under cover of these vessels.

I am not aware of the source of this attribution of the name to another

branch of the family.

At this time, owing to disastrous shipping losses directly attributable to

mistakes in calclating longitude, the British government offered a

substantial prize for a reliable method. Swedenborg's proposal was

apparently defensible technically, but would have required skilled

mathematicians to execute. The prize was eventually granted to the inventor

of a clock whose accuracy could be trusted even under extreme weather

conditions. Cf. The Harvard Magazine

These were "reportedly" found among Swedenborg's manuscripts, and are

attributed to him in a posthumous tribute by Samuel Sandels. There is no

convincing evidence that they were actually "formulated" by Swedenborg. I

do not find them mentioned in Wilkinson, but they are to be found on p. 57

of the Abriss (p. 57) as follows:

[12]:1) Oft im Worte Gottes zu lesen, und über dasselbe nachzudenken.

2) Alles dem Willen der Göttlich vorsehung zu unterwerfen

3) In allem den Anstand des Benehmens zu beobachten, und das Gewissen rein

zu erhalten.

4) Treu der Geschäfte seines Berufs und der Pflichten seines Amtes zu

warten, und sich in allen Dingen der Gesellschaft nützlich zu machen.

Where Solovyev cites Swedenborg's titles in Latin, I have left them in

Latin. Where he cites them in Russian, as here, I have translated them into

English. Cf. especially n. 24 infra.

Prodromus principiorum rerum naturalium, sive novorum tentaminum chymian

et physicam experimentalem geometrice explicandi [Preliminary sketch of

principles of natural phenomena, or of new efforts to explain experimental

chemistry and physics empirically] (Amsterdam: Joannis Oosterwyk, 1721).

Nova observata et inventa circa ferrum et ignem, et praecipue circa

naturam ignis elementarem, una cum nova camini inventione [New Observations

and Discoveries concerning Iron and Fire, and Especially concerning the

Basic Nature of Fire, together with a Newly Invented Furnace] (Amsterdam:

Joannis Oosterwyk, 1721).

Methodus nova inveniendi longitudines locorum terra marique ope lunae [A

New Method of Finding the Longitudes of Places on Land and Sea by Means of

the Moon] (Amsterdam: Joannis Oosterwyk, 1721).

The essays on docks and on ships were included in the publication on


Miscellanea observata circa res naturales, et praesertim circa mineralia,

ignem, et montium strata, Parts I-III [Miscellaneous Observations

concerning Natural Phenomena, Especially concerning Minerals, Fire, and the

Strata of Mountains] (Leipzig, 1722).

Pars quarta miscellanearum observationum circa res naturales, et praecipue

circa mineralia, ferrum et stallactitas in cavernis Baumannianis, etc.

[Part Four of Miscellaneous Observations concerning Natural Phenomena,

Especially concerning Minerals, Iron, and the Stalactites in Baumann's

Cave] (Schiffbeck bei Hamburg: Herm. Hein. Hollius, 1722).

Perhaps the clearest statement of Swedenborg's resolute empiricism during

his scientific career is to be found in the introduction to his Regnum

Animale: Swedenborg emphatically rejects a priori rationalism under the

name of "synthesis" and emphatically espouses empiricism under the name of

"analysis." SYNTHESIS, quae a Causis & Principiis rationum suarum filum

auspicatur, & usque ad Causarum Effectus . . . [est] non nisi quam Analysis

proletaria, praecox & vaga . . . ¶ 7. This is because Sola mente divinare

Principia, & exinde se per consequentia certo tramite deducere ad

posteriora, est modo Entium & Potentium Superiorum, Spirituum, Angelorum,

Ipsiusque Omniscientis Numinis, qui scilicet summam incolunt lucem (¶ 10).

In contrast, ANALYSIS a Causatis, Effectibus, & Phoenomenis per viam

sensuum Corporis ingressis telam suae ratiocinationis inchoat, & usque ad

Causas causarumque causas . . . procedit (¶ 11). Haec via sola ducit ad

Principia atque Veritates, seu ad Superiora, & fere ad Coelestia, nec alia

nobis Terrigenis aperta esse videtur (¶ 12). "SYNTHESIS, which picks up its

thread of reasoning from causes and principles, and [proceeds] from there

to the effects of the causes . . . ]is] nothing but lower-class, premature,

and rambling analysis;" because "To divine principles by means of the mind

alone, and to travel down from there on a proven pathway through

corollaries to consequences, is a property of higher beings and spirits

alone and and of the omniscient deity himself, who of course dwell in the

highest light." In contrast, "ANALYSIS picks up its thread from things

caused, from effects and phenomena that come into us through our physical

senses, and proceeds . . . from there to causes and to the causes of

causes." "This way alone leads to principles and truths, or to the higher

and almost heavenly things; nor does any other way seem to be open to us

earth-born creatures." As is customary in Swedenborgian studies, references

are not to pages but to paragraph numbers, which are uniform in all

editions. Cf. n. 26 infra.

Cf. Wilkinson, op. cit., p. 25, not mentioned in the Abriss. The New

Jerusalem Magazine of November 1830 cites the "forty-fifth number of the

Foreign Quarterly Review (London)" as an apparently primary source for this


Dalton's New System of Chemical Philosphy (1808) is recognized as a major

step toward an atomic theory of matter. In his Principia (1734), Swedenborg

proposed that matter consists of energy moving in geometrically describable


Jöns Berzelius's work proposing that atoms are electrically polarized

(Theory of Chemical Proportions and the Chemical Action of Electricity) was

published in 1814. Swedenborg's Principia includes a detailed proposal that

the phenomenon of magnetism is due to the polarization of the particles of

iron. It also included extensive tables of calculations of the declination

of the compass in different geographical areas.

Sir William Herschel published his findings on this subject in a series of

papers between 1784 and 1818. Swedenborg's nebular hypothesis was outlined

in his Principia (1734) and included not only speculations about the shape

of our galaxy but also the proposal that our galaxy was only one of

myriads. Cf. Gustav Arrhenius, "Swedenborg as Cosmologist," in Erland Brock

et al., eds, Swedenborg's Historical Position (Bryn Athyn, PA: Swedenborg

Scientific Association, 1988).

Joseph Louis Lagrange (1736-1813) developed a method of calculating how

the gravitational interactions of the planets affected their orbits, a

particularly intricate problem given the constantly changing spatial

relationships between them.

These "tracts" were definitive studies of mining and especially smelting

processes for the iron and copper industries. Swedenborg was convinced that

Sweden's economic health depended on these industries and as a member of

the House of Nobles argued against efforts to lay more stress on the more

glamorous metals, silver and gold. He was distressed that Swedish crude

metals were shipped to the Continent for further processing and then

repurchased by Swedish industry, and the volumes in question were part of

his campaign to break the Continental "monopoly" on the production of

quality metals.

Oeconomia regni animalis in transactiones divisa, etc. ("The Soul's

Domain, Divided into Transactions:") Two vol's. (London and Amsterdam:

Francois Changuion, 1740-41). The first volume focused on the circulatory

system, the second on the brain.

Regnum animale, anatomice, physice, et philosophice perlustratum, etc.

(The Soul's Domain, Considered Anatomically, physically, and

Philosophically) Three vol's. (The Hague: 1744, and London: 1745). In the

introduction, Swedenborg explains that his first effort to find the soul by

empirical means failed because he had not been thorough enough. He now

proposes eleven volumes, of which he completed three (on the abdominal

organs, the thoracic organs, and the skin and senses of touch and taste),

with substantial material in draft on the brain and on the reproductive


Since Solovyev cites these titles in Russian, it seems probable that he

had not seen the Latin editions. In the Latin titles (Oeconomia Regni

Animalis and Regnum Animale) the adjective animalis is explicitly used in

its meaning, "of the soul," and has nothing to do with "animals."

Swedenborg makes it clear that he has set out on an empirical search for

the soul, and that to his mind, we must look for the soul in her "kingdom,"

the human body. He undertook the second series (projected as comprising

eleven volumes!) because of his conviction that the first effort had failed

and that a more thorough study of anatomy was called for.

Solovyev seems here to credit Swedenborg with too much modesty.

Swedenborg's assertion was that he himself had laid aside the scalpel as a

source of primary data and relied on the latest researches of others

because he has observed a tendency to attach undue significance to his own

first hand observations. There is every reason to believe that he was aware

that his use of the primary data broke new ground in a number of respects.

This event marked the culmination of more than a year of intense inner

ferment, witnessed principally by the "Journal of Dreams" from 1743-44.

This source was probably not available to Solovyev, since the only

publication before the twentieth century was in Swedish (G. E. Klemming,

ed., Stockholm: 1859). The "Journal" records a Christ-vision at Easter time

in Delft in 1744, but makes no mention of the London event, attributed to

the Easter season of the following year. The only account of this latter

comes from a friend of Swedenborg's, the banker Carl Robsahm, and rests on

a conversation between the two late in Swedenborg's life (Cf. Rudolph L.

Tafel, ed., Documents concerning the Life and Character of Emanuel

Swedenborg. Two vols. bound as three. [London: Swedenborg Society, 1875,

1877], Vol. I, pp. 35f.). For this reason, some scholars have suspected

that the account represents no more than a fauly recollection of the Delft

vision. However, there is very strong evidence for the London event early

in The Word Explained (9 volumes, A. Acton, tr. and ed.; Bryn Athyn, PA:

Academy of the New Church, 1928-51). In ¶ 1003, Swedenborg eplicitly dates

the beginning of his open experience of the spiritual world to eight months

earlier, namely "the middle of April, 1745," at which time he was

definitely not in Delft but in London. Cf. also William Ross Woofenden,

ed., Swedenborg's Journal of Dreams, 1743-44 (New York: Swedenborg

Foundation, 1977). The two differences between the Robsahm account and

Solovyov's summary of it are that the former 1) states that the vision in

his room happened during the night of the incident at dinner, and 2) gives

the message that the Lord would "explain" (rather than "dictate") what he

should write. There is compelling evidence in Swedenborg's manuscripts

against any theory of automatic writing or stenographic "dictation."

This retirement was not immediate. He remained a fully active member of

the College of Mines for more than a year, and submitted his resignation

only when one of the senior members retired and his post, with additional

responsibilities, was offered to Swedenborg. Even then, he saw through to

completion any cases he had been actively involved in. He continued his

involvement with the House of Nobles for the rest of his life; and while he

clearly did not engage in further scientific research, as late as 1763 he

published a treatise on the craft of marble inlay. There are indications

that this latter was done simply to maintain his standing in the Academy of

Sciences and amounted to little more than dusting off something drafted

years earlier, but it nevertheless testifies to some ongoing interest in

the physical world.

In the time between 1745 and 1749, Swedenborg had also reviewed his

university Hebrew and Greek, compiled a substantial Bible index for

himself, begun a diary of his spiritual experiences, and drafted the nine

volumes of The Word Explained (cf. n. 26 supra). This latter, while clearly

intended for revision and publication, was left in manuscript, the first

Latin editions appearing between 1842 and 1854. There are also indications

that he considered publication of his "Spiritual Diary," but instead he

indexed it and drew on it for illustrative material in his published works.

A Latin edition of the diary was published in nine volumes between 1843 and

1869. A new critical text has been issued under the editorship of Durban

Odhner, who is also preparing a fresh English translation.

Latin title, Arcana Coelestia quae in Scriptura Sacra seu Verbo Domini

sunt detecta: [nempe quae in Genesi et Exodo] una cum mirabilibus quae visa

sunt in Mundo Spirituum et in Coelo Angelorum. The basic title remained

constant through the eight Latin volumes of the first edition: the

bracketed segment (using hic rather than nempe) changed to reflect the

specific contents of each volume.

At the close of his description of Arcana Coelestia, Solovyov will note

that the exegesis is not as "uninterrupted" as the present statement would

suggest. It may be noted here that at the beginning of the second chapter

(¶ 67), Swedenborg announces his intention to include material on his

experiences in the spiritual world. From then on there is a continuing

series of "interchapter articles" which, as the work proceeds, cover a

fairly wide range of theological topics.

Swedenborg often follows closely the very literal Latin translaition of

Sebastian Schmidt (1696), and apparently used his Hebrew more for reference

than as his primary source. In more casual citations, he is quite capable

of quoting from memory, with considerable but not perfect accuracy. It may

be of interest that there was a very fresh and lively interest in Hebrew at

Uppsala during his university days; cf. "'Rabbi' Johann Kemper of Uppsala"

(translated from pp. 60-67 of Hans-Joachim Schoeps, Barocke Juden,

Christen, Judenchristen [Bern: Francke Verlag, 1965]) in Studia

Swedenborgiana 7/1 (December 1990), pp. 10-17.

(Sensus) coelestis, most frequently translated as "the celestial (sense)."

Solovyev may be referring to one of the advertisements for the Arcana,

which expressed the intent of "such an exposition of the whole Bible, as

was never attempted in any language before. " The advertisement is quoted

in Robert Hindmarsh's Rise and Progress of the New Jerusalem Church, etc.

(London: Hodson & Son, 1861), p. 2), which Solovyev includes in his

bibliography at the close of this article. It is an intent which has

escaped the notice of most Swedenborg scholars. As Solovyov will note,

after completing his commentary on Genesis and Exodus, Swedenborg published

mainly non-exegetica works, the only exception being his commentary on the

book of Revelation.

Swedenborg uses scientia, verum scientificum and scientifica to refer to

factual information on any subject, not necessarily "scientific." In Arcana

Coelestia ¶ 34, for example, he speaks of spirits who are in scientia

doctrinalium fidei absque amore, literally, "in the science (= knowledge)

of the doctrinal aspects of faith, without love," referring to having a

wealth of information about theology but not the love that the theology


This holds true for the exegesis of Genesis 1-11. For chapters 12-50 of

Genesis, though, Swedenborg deals with the "celestial sense"--that is, he

focuses primarily on his story of the gradual replacement of the human by

the divine in the person of Jesus. For most of Exodus, his interpretation

focuses on the state of human spirituality at the time of the Advent. The

most concise overview of the contents of Arcana Coelestia presently

available is by William Ross Woofenden, and has been published serially in

Studia Swedenborgiana (7/4, 8/1, 8/2, and 8/3) under the title, "Doctrinal

Patterns in Arcana Coelestia." For a more extensive (and apologetic)

survey, cf. William F. Wunsch, The World within the Bible: A Handbook to

Swedenborg's Arcana Coelestia (New York: New Church Press, 1929).

Cf. n. 32 supra.

It was presumably for this purpose that Swedenborg compiled a fairly

extensive index to Arcana Coelestia of which a rough draft and a fair copy

have been preserved. A somewhat conflated version was compiled by E. Rich

and published in two volumes by the Swedenborg Society in London in 1852

and 1860, reprinted in 1865.

This is a peculiar error. Clavis hieroglyphica arcanorum naturalium et

spiritualium per viam representationum et correspondentarium ("A

heiroglyphic key to natural and spiritual arcana by means of

representations and correspondences") was apparently written no later than

1744--before the onset of Swedenborg's paranormal experiences, that is--and

was left in manuscript. The first Latin edition was published by Robert

Hindmarsh in London in 1784.

`De telluribus in Mundo nostro Solari, quae vocantur Planetae: et de

telluribus in coelo astrifero: deque illarum incolis; tum de spiritibus et

angeli ibi; ex auditis et visis (London: 1758).

De Coelo et ejus mirabilibus, et de Inferno, ex auditis et visis (London:


De Ultimo Judicio, et de Babylon destructa; ita quod omnia, quae in

Apocalypsi praedicta sunt, hodie impleta sint. Ex auditis et visis London:

1758). Of the five works published in 1758, this is the only one which does

not depend substantially on Arcana Coelestia. The events described were

witnessed a year after the completion of that major work.

De Equo Albo, de quo in Apocalypsi, cap. xix. Et dein de Verbo et ejus

sensu spirituali seu interno, ex Arcanis Coelestibus (London: 1758). As the

full title indicates, the image from Revelation is used as a vehicle for a

summary of Swedenborg's doctrine of the spiritual meaning of Scripture.

De Nova Hierosolyma et ejus Doctrina coelesti: ex auditis e coelo. Quibus

praemittitur aliquid de Nova Coelo et nova Terra (London: 1758). The slight

differences in the title suggest that Solovyov was quoting from his

remarkable memory. The work itself contains very little Scripture

interpretation. It is divided into very brief chapters, each a discussion

of one or more items in Swedenborg's standard theological vocabulary

followed by extensive references to Arcana Coelestia. It offers a

reasonably complete and simple overview of his theology.

Doctrina Novae Hierosolymae de Domino (Amsterdam: 1763). In the interim

between the 1758 works and the 1763-64 ones, Swedenborg wrote most of an

extensive (and discursive) running commentary on the book of Revelation,

including the preparation of a fair copy for the printer. He left it

unfinished, however, and the treatment of Revelation published in 1766 is

much more concise. For a review of evidence concerning this and similar

situations, cf. George F. Dole, "A Rationale for Swedenborg's Writing

Sequence, 1745-1771" in Robin Larsen, ed., Emanuel Swedenborg: A Continuing

Vision (New York: Swedenborg Foundation, 1988), pp. 293-297. The earlier

work, under Swedenborg's title of Apocalypsis Explicata, was first

published (in four volumes) in 1785-1789.

Doctrina Novae Hierosolymae de Scriptura Sacra (Amsterdam: 1763).

Doctrina Vitae pro Nova Hierosolyma ex praeceptis Decalogi (Amsterdam:


Doctrina Novae Hierosolymae de Fide (Amsterdam: 1763).

Continuatio de Ultimo Judicio: et de Mundo spirituali (Amsterdam: 1763).

Sapientia angelica de Divino Amore dt de Divina Sapientia (Amsterdam:


Sapientia angelica de Divina Providentia (Amsterdam: 1764). Clearly a

sequel to the preceding title.

Apocalypsis revelata, in qua deteguntur arcana quae ibi praedicta sujt, et

hactenus recondita latuerunt (Amsterdam: 1764). Cf. n. 44 supra.

Delitiae sapientiae de Amore conjugiali [sic]; post quas sequuntur

voluptates insaniae de Amore scortatorio (Amsterdam: 1768).

De Commercio Animae et Corporis, quod creditur fieri vel per Influxum

Physicum, vel per Influxum Spiritualem, vel per Harmoniam Praestabilitam

(London: 1769).

Summaria Exposition Doctrinae Novae Ecclesiae, quae per Novam Hierosolymam

in Apocalypsi intelligitur (Amsterdam: 1769). The work consists mainly of

critique of traditional Protestant and Catholic doctrine: the only

"exposition of the doctrine of the New Church" is a set of proposed chapter

titles, of which the actual chapter titles of True Christian Religion may

be regarded as a significant revision.

Vera Christiana Religio, continens universam Theologiam Novae Ecclesiae, a

Domino apud Danielem cap. vii.13, 14 35 in Apocalypsi cap. xxi.1, 2

praedictae (Amsterdam: 1771). This was a single volume publication. The

second Latin edition, published by Jo. Fr. Im. Tafel in Tübingen and London

in 1857-58, was in two volumes. In 1852-52, however, the French translation

by le Boys des Guays was published in three volumes (Paris: M, Minot). No

other three-volume edition is attested. I find this particularly intriguing

in view of the fact that this is one of the titles Solovyov cites in Latin.

Apocalypsis explicata secundum sensum spiritualem, cf. n. 46 supra.

Editor's title. This was little more than a notebook, clearly for his own

benefit and with no intent of publication. It was first published in Latin

in 1784.

Presumably the work referred to above as The Word Explained. Its first

Latin publication (4 vols. J. F. I. Tafel, ed., Tübingen, 1847-1854) was

under the editorial title, Adversaria in libros veteris testamenti, "Notes

on the books of the Old Testament." Cf. n. 30 supra.

A manuscript that seems nearly ready for publication: some of the

paragraphs consist of single sentences only, and were apparently intended

for amplification, but for the most part the text is quite presentably

written. The probable date of composition is 1766; the first Latin edition

was published in 1840.

Quaestiones Novem de Trinitate, etc. ad Emanuelem Swedenborg propositae a

Thomas Hartley, tum illius responsa (London: R. Hindmarsh, 1785). The Rev.

Thomas Hartley also prompted the 1769 autobiographical letter mentioned


Coronis seu appendix ad Verum Christianam Religionem: in qua de quatuor

Ecclesiis in hac tellure a creatione mundi, deque illarum periodis et

consummatione; et deinde de Nova Ecclesia quatuor illis successura, quae

futura corona illarum; deque adventu Domini ad illam hodie, et de divino

auspicio Ipsius in illa in aeternum: et porro mysterio redemptionis ("A

conclusion or appendix to True Christian Religion: dealing with the four

churches on this earth since the creation of the world and their periods

and consummation; then with the New Church which is to succeed those four

and is to be their crown; then concerning the Lord's present day advent for

that purpose and his divine guidance over it forever, and further, the

mystery of redemption"). N.B. Coronis = "conclusion, appendix:" corona =

"crown." It should probably be noted that Swedenborg's followers have at

one time or another published virtually everything he put on paper.

Swedenborg had little patience with philosophy to the extent that it

appeared to be an attempt to construct a consistent verbal system. It

should be noted, though, that during his university years the Cartesian

controversy was very much alive, that his thesis was on Seneca, and that

there are accurate comments on both Aristotle and Leibniz in his

theological works. Cf. also the posthumously published A Philosopher's

Notebook, A. Acton, ed., (Philadelphia: Swedenborg Scientific Association,

1931. Reprinted 1976), in which Swedenborg apparently collected quotations

from philosophers that represented their thoughts on issues of particular

concern to him. This was probably compiled between 1741 and 1744--just

before his theological period. In his published theological works he shows

no interest whatever in providing references for his comments on


The title page of a volume of Plotinus with Swedenborg's signature on it

has been preserved, perhaps from his university days. It should also be

noted that the professor of Hebrew at Uppsala University in Swedenborg's

era, Johann Kemper, wrote three volumes attempting to show that the Zohar

contained the Christian doctrine of the trinity, translated the Gospel of

Matthew into Hebrew, and wrote a cabbalistic commentary on it. Cf. n. 33

supra. It seems highly unlikely that Solovyov would have had access to this


While it is quite true that Swedenborg regards the human form as by far

the most adequate image of the Divine, he clearly points to the unknowable

Divine beyond that form. Cf., for example, True Christian Religion ¶ 339,

"we ought to believe . . . in God the Savior Jesus Christ, ecause this is

to believe in a visible God in whom is the invisible; and faith in a

visible God, who is at the same time both human and divine, enters into

us," and ibid. ¶ 538, where "the Father," the Divine beyond or within the

incarnate Lord, is said to be "invisible, unapproachable, and non

susceptible of union with us."

A reference to Colossians 2:9, which is one of the few passages of the

Epistles cited by Swedenborg with some frequency.

The distinction is accurate, but the terminology is reversed. Devils are

those whose whose antagonism is directed primarily against love, and satans

those whose antagonism is directed primarily against truth. Cf. Swedenborg,

The Apocalypse Revealed, ¶ 387.

This description is at best an approximation of the picture Swedenborg

presents. For him, everyone who dies in adulthood has made the fundamental

decision for heaven or for hell, but more or less time in the "World of

Spirits" may be necessary for that decision to become manifest and for any

reservations about it to be dismissed. The essential mechanism of this

process is the gradual loss of the ability to act and speak in such a way

as to conceal one's inner nature. As this happens, the good are attracted

to the good and the evil to the evil.

It may be argued that this "vacillation" is simply Swedenborg's

unwillingness to indulge in the oversimplifications of either materialism

or idealism. He does develop in some detail a doctrine of distinct levels

of reality which related to each other according to laws of influx and

correspondence. Cf. especially the first two chapters of his Divine Love

and Wisdom.

Swedenborg's stock phrase is sicut [a se] (Arcana Coelestia ¶¶ 47, 17122,

et passim). Solovyov's synonymous quasi presupposes the kind of fluency

with Latin that would enable him to attend to meaning rather than to

particular items of vocabulary.

Swedenborg rarely uses the word aura, and so far as I can discover, never

in description of the Divine. Far more frequent in a quite similar meaning

is the word sphaera, which is predicated of the Divine in, for example,

Arcana Coelestia ¶¶ 3645, 36462, and 3660e. An extended discussion of the

Holy Spirit may be found in Arcana Coelestia ¶ 9818, while the trinity

itself is treated in the first three chapters of True Christian Religion.

In The Apocalypse Revealed, Marital Love, A Brief Exposition, and True

Christian Religion, Swedenborg appended to sections or chapters stories of

his experiences in the spiritual world, which he referred to as

memorabilia--roughly, "noteworthy events." This is not true of Arcana

Coelestia, however, where the interchapter material is consistently

expository, with narrative kept to a minimum.

[76]:The story that Solovyov proceeds to relate reflects with considerable

accuracy Swedenborg's view of the dynamics of the spiritual world,

especially his fundamental concept of what we might call "the law of

spiritual gravity" whereby persons of like temperament naturally gather

together, the good thus forming heaven and the evil forming hell. However,

while equivalents of most parts of the story can be found, they are nowhere

gathered into the narrative which Solovyov presents. My annotations may

serve to demonstrate the eclectic nature of this particular text.

John Faulkner Potts' (six volume) The Swedenborg Concordance lists

forty-one references to the middle heaven, usually called "the middle or

second heaven" (¶¶ 4240, 4279 (bis), 4286 (bis), 4411, 4605, 5145, 5328,

5922 (bis), 6013, 6065, 6366, 6417, 6524, 6832, 8443, 8920, 9407, 9408,

9457, 9468, 9543, 9592, 9615, 9670 (bis), 9673, 9680, 9684, 9741, 9811,

9933, 9992, 10005, 10062, 10130, and 10181). All of these are descriptive

rather than narrative, and while it is clearly assumed that Swedenborg has

"been there," it is never so stated. The same is true of like references in

Heaven and Hell (¶¶ 15, 29, 31, 33, 34, 65, 100, 207, 208, 210, 280, and

295), in The Apocalypse Revealed (¶ 49), in Soul-Body Interaction (¶ 16),

and in True Christian Religion (¶¶ 121 and 580).

Swedenborg often describes the overall form of heaven as a human form,

referring to it as maximux homo or "the universal human" (traditionally,

"the Grand Man). Cf. for example, Arcana Coelestia 1894, 3624. In Arcana

Coelestia 3637 he does state that this maximus homo, "in the highest sense

is th Lord alone" (in supremo sensu est Solus Dominus), but when he

describes various locations he uniformly refers to this "body" as maximus

homo--never, so far as I can discover, as "the Lord." He associates the

heart with the right side of the body and with the third or highest heaven

and the lungs with the left side and with the second or middle heaven (cf.

Arcana Coelestia ¶¶ 418, 9050). I do not find any reference to a location

"left of the stomach," though both sinster and ventriculus occur fairly

frequently as indications of spiritual location.

Swedenborg uses quoad almost exclusively in the sense of "in respect to."

For the meaning intended here, he regularly uses propter: cf., e.g., Heaven

and Hell ¶ 557, Amor coelestis est amare usus propter usus, seu bona

propter bona, "Heavenly love is loving service for the sake of service, or

good [acts] for the sake of good [acts]." I have not found a passage where

he speaks of loving what is true for the sake of the good or because it is

good. He frequently contrasts "heavenly" and "spiritual," the former

referring to what we might call an essentially affective intuition and use

of truth and the latter to an essentially cognitive use of

affect--incidentally, locating the "celestial" in the right side of the

brain and the "spiritual" in the left (cf. Arcana Coelestia, ¶ 641)--but I

do not find the equivalent of the phrase which Solovyov quotes here.

There is an aproximate parallel to this in Arcana Coelestia, ¶ 3884.

While I do not find this particular incident recorded, there are several

instances where Swedenborg interpreted physical sensations in terms of

spiritual qualities, Cf.. e.g., Arcana Coelestia, ¶ 5714, where the

influence of a particular adulterer was felt as "pain in the periosteum . .

. and in the toes of the left foot" and a "strong feeling of heaviness in

the stomach." Cf. a similar incident in ¶ 5720.

Swedenborg is quite capable of speaking about "the devil" in colloquial

style (e.g., "It is slavery to be led by the devil," Arcana Coelestia, ¶

2890), but when presenting his concepts of spiritual reality, he is careful

to insist that there is no single ruler of the hells. Cf. especially Heaven

and Hell, ¶ 311, with the summary statement, "Hell in its whole complex is

that is called the devil and Satan."

This might reflect the relatively infrequent cum venia of True Christian

Religion, ¶ 80. Venia as "willing consent" falls between voluntas, "intent"

and permissio, "toleration" in Marital Love, ¶ 41. The context in True

Christian Religion is the story of a "satan" who cum venia comes up from

hell, but this satan comes with a woman apparently to be interviewed

concerning his theology.

This phenomenon is noted in the context of different incidents in Arcana

Coelestia, ¶¶ 817, 952, 4328, and 5865.

As far as I am aware, the notion of a devil being compelled to visit

heaven has no parallel in Swedenborg's accounts. He does tell of "evil

spirits" wanting to come into heaven and being allowed to, but the notion

of compulsion by an angel is quite alien to his sense of spiritual

dynamics. In Marital Love, ¶ 415, there is the story of two "satans" who

want to speak with angels and are given two angels as custodia. Clearly,

however, the satans are not "prisoners" in this account.

This is a recurrent theme in Swedenborg's descriptions and offers a kind

of visual image of his contention that human beings are capable of

preferring hell with a passion. Arcana Coelestia, ¶ 1820 may be referred to

as an example.

While I do not find Swedenborg making this point in exactly these words,

Solovyov here reflects his doctrine very accurately. The principle is

stated and discussed in Chapter 57 of Heaven and Hell under the title, "The

Lord Does Not Cast Anyone into Hell; Rather, the Spirits Themselves Do So"

(Quod Dominus neminem in Infernum dejiciat, sed quod ipse spiritus semet).

The documentation is probably as good as one could expect. In response to

a request from a friend, Fraulein von Knobloch, Kant looked into the

reports of clairvoyance and reported himself impressed with the reliability

of the accounts, despite his own well-known skepticism. His letter to this

effect is published in English translation in Tafel, op. cit., Vol. II, pp.


The case was not actually dropped until after Swedenborg's death. There

had been a finding against Dr. Beyer and his colleague, Dr. Rosen, which

had been appealed. Dr. Rosen died before the charges were withdrawn.

He is reported to have said to the pastor (Ferelius), "As truly as you see

me before your eyes, so true is everything that I have written; and I could

have said more had it been permitted. When you enter eternity you will see

everything, and then you and I shall have much to talk about" (Cyriel

Sigstedt, The Swedenborg Epic [New York: Bookman, 1952], p. 432).

This continues to function in London. Its equivalent in the United States

is the Swedenborg Foundation, now headquartered in West Chester,


The title page of this indicates that it is translated from the Penny

cyclopedia of the Society for the Dissemination of Useful Knowledge. It

seems quite clearly to reflect an abridgement of the Wilkinson biography

which Solovyov lists just below; and since in that biography Wilkinson

refers to his own article on Jesper Swedberg in that Cyclopedia, it is

quite possible that the abridgment was by him rather than by the


It may be of interest that this work was also published in Baltimore,

Maryland. There were several German-speaking Swedenborgian congregations in

the United States in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

White had written a very favorable biography which was published in two

volumes in 1867, then condensed and published in a single volume in 1868.

After he was fired from his post as manager of the Swedenborg Society, he

wrote and published the 1874 biography, which is distinctly hostile in


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